SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico is asking businesses in the state’s tourism industry to help track the impact that Coronavirus is having on tourism revenue.
While preliminary data indicates that the tourism revenue is plummeting, the state’s Tourism Department says it wants to hear directly from businesses about their own losses in order to better advocate for their recovery.
“We do not want to wait until all of this is over and then assess the economic impact, it is important that we do so now. The more responses we get, the better we represent your interests as a department,” said Victoria Gregg, research director for the New Mexico Tourism Department.
Gregg’s comments came during a Thursday morning webinar hosted by the Tourism Department in an effort to connect affected businesses with help.
The Tourism Department has now launched an online data gathering effort in hopes to learn about the losses in nine different tourism related sectors. Those sectors include hotels, resorts and lodging; destination marketing firms; restaurants; retail galleries; events and event planners; attractions and cultural institutions; meetings and conventions; airports and transportation and tour operators.
“We can’t do this initiative alone,” said Tourism Secretary Jen Paul Schroer. “This is truly a plea from our offices, to the chambers, to the associations, to the destination marketing organizations, and all of the business out there and non-profits, will you please help us get the word out?”
The data initiative comes as the Tourism Department has already seen one telltale sign of the COVID-19-related closures: hotel vacancies.
As of last week, 28% of hotel rooms across New Mexico were being used. The Tourism Department says that occupancy rate is about 60% lower than the same time frame in 2019.
NEW MEXICO HOTEL OCCUPANCY RATES
Week of 3/8 – 3/14 – 63%
Week of 3/15 – 3/21 – 43%
Week of 3/22 – 3/28 – 28%Source: NM Tourism Department
The state Tourism Department admits they don’t know exactly how much of an economic hit the sector could take. However, the department shared an Oxford Economics study Tuesday that projects an 80% decline in tourism revenue in March 2020 across the U.S. The study predicts those losses will continue through December 2020.
As part of the new data gathering effort, the New Mexico Tourism Department is asking affected businesses to submit weekly reports about the “economic impacts for COVID-19.”
“We’re going to recover and it’s going to take time, it’s going to take time, it’s going to take us being scrappy, it’s going to take us working smarter, us working together and collaborating, but we are going to recover,” said Sec. Schroer.
In the meantime, the Tourism Department is encouraging businesses look into loans and grants and take the COVID-19-induced downtown to update their online presence.
“The silver lining here is that most travelers miss traveling and cannot wait to be able to do so again, there will be a pent up demand once this is finished, people will travel again,” Gregg said.
The state is also looking to create “recovery task forces” for various sectors of the tourism industry. Click here for more information.